I realized it when I said it.
A friend called because it was snowing. She said that whenever it snows now, she thinks of me because I love the snow so much. And I said, “I was just outside walking in the snow. It felt like I was in church.”
That’s when I realized it for the first time, I think. Or maybe the first time I articulated it? Snow = Church.
Oh dear. Did I offend? Are you rolling your eyes. Or giving me the tsk,tsk,tsk with your tongue. Or calling me a heathen. Or for my friends who detest the snow, are you shaking your head because you disagree with me.
But hear me out. This is a very personal thing.
Before I go on. Know that I’ve spent a lot of time in the structures we call “church.” Know too that the “church” structures I’ve been to have had a lot of different signs out front. A lot. You name it, if it says “visitors welcome,” I’ve most likely attended. Some small and simple. Some grandiose and resplendent. Most are just fine and dandy. Though a few were barely tolerable as they espoused more hate than love. Some bring me feel closer to the Holy; some don’t. Maybe it’s me; maybe it’s not.
For me, being outside when snow is falling is being as close as I ever have to the Holy. The quiet stillness of snow makes my heart and soul quiet and still, if only for a few minutes. The peace that is so hard to find pours into me and settles in my chest. It fills me with a sense of contentedness. Satisfaction. Okayness.
What a wonderful time of the year this is. What a perfect time to seek out the Holy. And to find.
The other night my daughter said, “Hey! Let’s go for a walk in the snow through the Christmas trees.” Honey, it is cold (in the teens). Honey, it is dark (no moon). Honey, it is late (10 pm).
…….Okay. Yes! What an inspired idea! Let’s go!
So we bundled up and headed up the hill behind our house. I lit an old oil lantern with a handle, one like our grandparents probably used to head to the outhouse in the middle of the night. We walked through the trees and crunched in the snow. It was precious. This felt like church to me. It felt like prayer. It felt like “encounter.” It was a family event, but it was definitely an encounter. As we tramped in the snow paths between the Christmas trees, I started to sing a Christmas song. (I don’t sing well; I love to sing, and I sing whenever I can, but it isn’t something you’d want to hear. I remember my husband looking at me with a weird look on his face the first time he heard me sing. He thought I was kidding. I wasn’t. Anyway.)
The snow walk in the dark night was a beautiful experience. I was eager to go again. When will night fall? When will darkness come again?
The next night. I set out again into the snowy night, but this time, I went alone. Frankly, being out there alone in dark night felt, felt, felt what? Eerie. I thought about the night before, when my husband accompanied us. He was armed. I wasn’t. I hadn’t asked, but wondered now what he thought we might encounter. Should I be afraid? I didn’t really feel afraid. I felt something different from FEAR. I felt what? What did I feel? I identified it and said, out loud. “Kinda eerie out here.”
And then decided it wasn’t. Eerie was not a good word for what I felt. It wasn’t “creepy” or “scary” or anything negative.
Deep. Close. Emotional. Vulnerable. Open.
I sat down in the snow between the rows of Christmas trees. The cold wetness of the snowy ground soaked right through my too thin jeans. “That was a mistake,” I thought. But since I was already wet, I stayed put. I heard a whinny in the pasture below me. It was Merlin, the herd leader and my soul horse. He is the white one here (grey actually, because his skin is grey not pink, technical distinction in horseland), with mahogany young Jessi.
I knew it was Merlin’s whinny because he has a very distinctive voice, high-pitched and lyrical. I cupped my hands around my mouth and hollered down into the pasture way below me, “Merzey, Handsome! My Boy! It’s me!” I wanted him to know it was me up here, nothing to be afraid of. A low whinny answered me back. That was Snickers, our friendly, obese Rocky Mountain horse.
I soon grew accustomed to the cold wetness and my eyes and mind adjusted to being out here in the night. I didn’t feel alone, especially now that the horses had spoken to me. I laid back. And I looked up at the stars.
The stars here in the country are unbelievable. Living most of my life in a place with too much light pollution to see much more than the first layer of the very brightest of stars, I had no inkling that there were so many stars in the night sky. It really is magnificent to me still, to look up and stare into the sky and see more and more and more stars. I remember buying my daughter a constellation book when she was younger. We tried to star gaze, but could never see much of anything other than the Big Dipper. Too many stars were missing to make out constellations. You can’t see many stars in or near a city.
But here. Now. Oh my. There was no moon, so the star show happening right above me was breath-taking. Silent night. Snowy night. Holy night. Wow. I could enjoy. I could communicate. I could appreciate. I could be.
Oh beautiful star. Christmas star. Shining brightly. Which one are you? How bright were you? How did they follow it? Could I follow a star? Imagine how difficult that would be.
Eventually, but too soon, I got up and made my way back inside. Silent night. Wet night. Cold night. Wintery wonderful night.
The next day, I made a little fire ring so we could have some outdoor fires in the snowy nights this winter. It is nothing special. I just took some rocks and make the circle. And then drug some chairs over. Sweet and simple. And free. I collected scraps from the cutting of all the Christmas trees and built a fire. An altar. A fire in the darkness is another one of those things that I experience and feel closer to the Divine.
I can tell now. I’ll be spending a lot of time in church this winter.
Is there something or some place or some experience that brings you close to the Sacred?
Like snow. Or a powerful river. Or a deep canyon. Or the vast ocean. Or the dense woods. Or a kitten. Or a deer in your yard. Or a visit to a nursing home. Or a nativity. Or a bonfire. Or caroling. Or a home altar. Or your barn. Or a church building. Or a tiny baby.
Find it. And go there this holiday season. Physically or mentally or emotionally, go there. Find, cultivate and create sacred spaces and places.
Celebrate winter. Celebrate life. Celebrate weather. Celebrate night. Celebrate love. Celebrate that special December feeling. Celebrate family. Celebrate that snakes are hibernating. (I just had to throw that in there. Because there is NO WAY I’d be lying flat on the ground on a pitch dark night in the middle of summer. No way. But here I was, in winter.)
Until next time, My Friends, savor the flavor of life!
Lots of love, The City Farmgirl, Rebekah
I was carried away to another place and time as I read your piece here about your “church” experience. All those years ago when I was 20, and lived in a small house on the side of a hill in West Virginia, I remember there were stone outcroppings farther up the hill. They would be warmed by the summer’s daylight rays. At night, in the complete dark, I’d climb up there and sit on the edge of one of those large, warm rocks and look out over the city lights and the river below with its lighted bridge that joined our city with the next. Complete quiet; complete peace (for a short while). Ahhhh, thanks for the memory jolt!
So glad you found your special place. I know mine is in the country too. Definitely not in the winter though. I get painfully cold. Mine is most likely on a cool fall day walking down a long and windy gravel road as the sky turns as orange as the leaves. That takes my breath away. Log homes and barnyards are an added bonus.
Snow makes things quiet. You are able to feel the presents of the holy. You can feel, and see all that is.
I have not been to a “church” for quit a while. I have been to God’s church which is all the out doors. The stars, moon, trees, snow or not, the quiet, the clean smell, and the presents of the Lord.
Sing it is a beautiful sound to our Lord. He does not judge on what our voices sound like, instead he rejoices in the sound of a pure heart singing praises. If any one judges your singing tell them that the most important one hears only beauty and rejoices.
I am so happy we have met. I really feel a soul mate in you even though you are young and I am getting old. I do not believe the soul ages, just our out side and the way we look at things.
I do appreciate your writing. I read a lot and your writings are like a wonderful short story that I look forward to. Keep it going I do not believe I am the only one who feels this way.
Until our paths cross again.
God be with you and yours this wonderful time of the year when we celebrate Christ’s Mass.
Kay (My friends call me Kay)
I to love the snow, Some of my friends think I’m crazy. I love the piece it gives and I love the wonder of it all. Your letter inspired me to find my place in the snow, so to speak. I love the country and I love to walk in the snow. I always have, when I was a young girl, I’d take off walking and walk for along time. There is just something so grand and peaceful, makes you feel closer to God. Thank for the memories. Merry Christmas and I hope you and yours are well. Keep enjoying the snow. Farm Girl #1020 Juanita
Wonderful! I believe that it is natural to appreciate any portion of God’s creations…I would have been out there trudging through the snow with you!
For Thanksgiving, my husband and I trekked over to the small town of Hot Springs, MT. As we were driving along, I noticed MULTIPLE rainbows surrounding us. I joked that the end of the rainbow must have be near our destination, the Symes Hotel, built in the 30’s. It is rough around the edges and folks are welcome to bring their dogs, kids, or whatever with them! Soaking in the hot spring water, viewing the vast sky and mountains is HEAVENLY… They have music on the weekends and adults and children get up and dance with abandon. The lovely woman singing got all of us smiling and moving, as two other ladies in the lobby played native American drums. We later witnessed a young man hula hooping on main street, shirtless! We giggled some more! What a great holiday and reason for enjoying life…
Awwww! I loved your “church”!! awesome. Any time we can meditate and worship our Creator and his Creation, especially as you did, is a wonderful, soul lifting kind of thing. I love living in the country and seeing the multitude of stars at night, when I can. Love the quietness of a snowy day too or should I say night? love it
Now you have experienced the calling of God! He coaxed you out of your safe place (where we all like to be comfortable) and brought you to Him.To be silent , in silence,surrounded by nature so your heart could be open and hear His still soft voice!
And He gave you serenity, peacefullness to your heart. To know he is really present always, but sometimes we need the chaos to stop – to listen- thru the stillness, thru a whisper of wind- thru a smile on a face. God is good!
Thank you for sharing your experience, I was right there with you- it was amazing.
Thank you for taking the time to connect with us city girls who long to be beside you!!
Blessings be upon you and your family . Merry Christmas…Cynthia
I like this.
Rebekah, I have never lived where there is a lot of snow, but growing up in New Mexico we had more than they have now. My mother ALWAYS made it a celebration. She built a fire, cooked a pot of stew in the dutch oven in the hot coals, had hot chocolate and we would sled all day long! I’ve always felt that if I’m going to be freezing cold, please let there be snow!
I also loved thinking of snow as church. And it is absolutely no surprise to me, because after all it is a definite gift from God. It’s how I feel about my garden.
Happy Winter!!! Dori – the Ranch Farmgirl –
Thank you so much for sharing your version of church. I also love being in the snow at night, however, it doesn’t snow here that much (Maryland). Being in nature, the quiet of the wilderness on a mountain top in Colorado, the beautiful sunset of Siesta Key, FL, anywhere in nature with all that God has provided is a wonderful experience.
I so enjoy your blog and feel I am living a dream through you and your family. I would so like to live in the country again (grew up on a farm, maaaaannnny years ago) it gives you so much freedom and a chance to really connect to life in a way so many are unaware of. Have always wanted to vacation in New England in the winter. I did live in Colorado for several years and loved it!!!! Rocky Mountain Park was my playground!! Aging parents brought me back to Maryland, but through your blog I can visit a snowy paradise.
Hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!!!!
Fluffy white snow is magical. Your beautiful description is well said. Minnesota has winters that provide those experiences sometimes daily. I don’t live on a tree farm but we are kindred spirits in the snow.
I too was swept away by your words to the quiet stillness of walking in through the falling snow. When I was a girl we had a woods behind our house with a wide path that was called “the wagon trail”. I loved walking along that trail when snow was drifting so silently down through the loblolly pines. Sometimes I would end up in a place that I called “church”. It was a circle of trees that allowed sun beams or snow flakes in. It felt safe, and holy.
Beautiful. This makes my little pagan heart glow in agreement. My special places tend to be in forests. Snow is gorgeous, but I’d probably cry if I had to be out in it. My husband says I wouldn’t mind it if I had the right kind of clothes. Could be.
love!!!! God bless.
beautiful. i totally agree.
I hear your joyous words and know only too well how you feel. I live in the wilderness of Alaska. We measure our neighbors by the miles between us. We have lots of snowy days. One day, years ago now, I needed the sky cathedral for some well needed solace. I took a lawn chair from the garage and a big warm blanket to cover it as -20 was a little to cold to lie on the ground. As I sat in the chair with fresh snow making the trees and landscape twinkle. The sky was clear and deep blue. With shortened days in the winter here, the sun was low on the horizon. The chickadees were feeding ravenously in anticipation of another long cold night. As I sat still, two of those precious angels landed on my shoulders. They spoke to me in the most beautiful language. They tugged on my scarf and hair. I was mesmerized and humbled. I dared not breathe. When they finally left to finish their filling up, I thanked the creator for giving me a glimpse of heaven. Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. I love hearing about your adventures of country life. Happy Holidays!
This is a beautiful piece. Thank you for putting your thoughts in a blog that enables your readers to have a share in this snowy peacefulness. My heart jumps at the sight of a lovely sunrise (I’m at work by 6:30am) or at the magnificent colours of the day’s sunset (I’ve 18 miles to home in the evening). So much in nature shows forth the creative touch of the Eternal Artist, God my heavenly Father. Experiencing the changing seasons, noting daily the little changes that slowly brings spring into summer into autumn into winter and on and on again…… I feel that same sense of holy that you described in your piece. I can’t look at the natural world in any other way other than seeing it as the work of my loving heavenly Father Who has given me the ability to enjoy His handiwork. Blessings of the season upon you and your family.
Really enjoyed reading your words and was transported to doing what you did, saw, felt and heard, including the deep quiet and the horse’s nickerings. Thank you .
MerryChristmas from Our Family to Yours MissFarmgirL R …
ThankYou and i Believe this is the Best you’ve written and shared …
LoveHugs / PrayersAlways , donna FL
Lovely photos. A winter Christmas must be so lovely. Gorgeous writing.
Cowgirl Dreams at
Sweet Words Pretty Pictures
That was simply beautiful Rebekah…thank you for that!
Oh my gosh, now I really want it to snow! Thank you for whisking me into another world. I have some rocks and 27 acres of woods and will be building my own fire pit. Thank you for always being so inspiring in a simple, UNmaterialistic way! Have a wonderful December.
I really like the first picture. Beautiful!
Love to be out in the woods….its always an experience of feeling G*ds presence. I guess its why I love pine-fir trees….it make me feel there’s something more than myself…..when I’m out under the huge trees….perhaps its a lesson…..like G*d is bigger than trees?….its that awesome when your in the woods and you get that sense that your not really alone when your alone.
What Kay said about singing anyway — remember about “make a joyful noise unto the Lord”? So just sing anyway when you feel like it.
I grew up in the redwoods of the northern California coast. There was one patch in town that I would step just inside the edge of it. (The edge was the top of the big gully it was in). And it was suddenly quiet and, well, awesome. The towering redwoods as cathedral is rather a cliche, but in this patch, it really was churchlike. Didn’t want to sing, though.
It rarely snows here on the Central Oregon Coast, same as where I grew up, so it never occurs to me to go out in it much.
i always look forward to your postings. i absolutely love the way you express yourself. your pictures are always beautiful. i have loved horses my whole life. you are my favorite farm girl!
i live in texas now but i grew up in pennsylvania. i remember the wonderful snowfalls and now miss them. snow truly does hush the earth.
thanks so very much for sharing your world with me!
I get it, Rebekah. This was just beautiful. <3
Lovely post, Rebekah.
It would feel very divine, very connecting. For me being outside connects me to God and painting does it for me too. I’m glad you do feel that way. It’s beautiful .
Bless you Rebekah for sharing your spiritual journey. I find my mind and heart at peace when I’m out in God’s beautiful and awesome creation. I can see Him everywhere…in the sky, trees, flowers and animals that I encounter in my travels. I am humbled by His creation. While I admit I’m not much of a winter person(sorry) I am in awe of it all!! May you and your family(both two and fout-footed) have a happy, healthy and blessed 2015
Beverly! So true!God is everywhere! Just love this website blog I just discovered! She is a very talented writer and photographer I might add! Oh love the country life so much! God is great! Amen!
Such beautiful photos, a cowgirls dream. Two things captured in these pictures that I love most, country setting and snow!